China / Innovation

China launches CBERS-4 satellite on Long March rockets' 200th mission

Updated: 2014-12-07 17:29

TAIYUAN - China launched the CBERS-4 satellite, jointly developed with Brazil, on Sunday from the Taiyuan base by Long March-4B rocket, the 200th Long March rocket family launch.

The rocket blasted off at 11:26 a.m. and lifted the earth resource satellite into its scheduled orbit, according to the Taiyuan satellite launch center in north China's Shanxi province.

CBERS-4 is the fifth satellite of the Chinese-Brazilian Earth Resource Satellite (CBERS) program which began in 1988. Such satellites are for use in the monitoring, planning and management of land, forestry, water conservancy, environmental protection and agriculture.

The first satellite of the program, CBERS-1, was launched in Oct. 1999 with the second and third, CBERS-2 and CBERS-2B, launched in 2003 and 2007.

CBERS-3 was launched last December from Taiyuan but failed to enter orbit after the rocket malfunctioned.

There is an agreement to build CBERS-5, which is expected to be launched in 2017.

Sunday's mission was the 200th flight of the Long March carrier rocket family since April 24, 1970 when a Long March-1 successfully carried China's first satellite, Dongfanghong-1, into space.

The 199th mission was completed last month by a Long March-2D rocket which took the Yaogan-24 remote sensing satellite into orbit.

China started work on carrier rockets in 1956. Long March rockets have since become the main carriers for satellite and spacecraft launches, taking more than 250 into space, including the Shenzhou unmanned and manned spaceships, China's first space lab Tiangong-1, and lunar orbiters.

Lei Fanpei, Chairman of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the main contractor for the space programs, told Xinhua that the Long March rockets will make at least another 100 launches in the next 7 years. The rockets were designed and manufactured by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, a CASC subsidiary.

The 100th launch of the Long March came on June 1, 2007 when a Long March-3A took a communications satellite into orbit.

There were 7 failures in the first 100 launches. In the second 100 launches since 2007, there were just two failures, a safety record that is better than those of the U.S. and Russia.

Carrying capacity and safety have a direct impact on satellites and spacecraft, so China's space program depends a lot on the rockets, said Li Tongyu of the academy.